Notes from the cops and courts beat
By By Suzanne Monk / managing editor
March 2, 2003
If you have outstanding fines with Lauderdale County Justice Court, now would be a good time to pay them because the judges are issuing arrest warrants for people who were supposed to be caught up by Jan. 1.
On the end of my desk, I have a stack of print-outs from Justice Court. Each page represents one arrest warrant issued this week. It's 2 inches tall, and lists 248 warrants. And that's just Judge Robbie Robinson's "A-L" stack.
Do the math.
The stack I have is about half of all the warrants Robinson will issue. So, call it 500 warrants in the end. In the coming weeks, warrants on non-payers will also be issued by each of the other three Justice Court judges. So, multiply by four.
When it's all over, there will be about 2,000 warrants out there, dating back as far as 1989.
Court Clerk Beverly Hopson said that, for the most part, the people on the list made their initial court appearances. They were set up on payment plans, but didn't keep to them.
Now, this is not the kind of situation where someone is going to come to your house and arrest you. Lauderdale County doesn't have that kind of manpower. Instead, patrol officers will carry the list around in their cruisers.
If you are stopped for any reason speeding, safety check point, whatever and your name is on the list, you're going to the county jail.
It's a now or later kind of thing.
Queen City Speedway: I have been following a lawsuit filed by residents of the Arundel community against Queen City Speedway. They said the race track is too loud, that the red dirt it kicks up gets all over their houses and silts up their ponds, and that their property values have plunged. They wanted the speedway closed and they wanted a financial judgment.
On the other side, race track owner Thomas Riley said he had broken no laws.
The trial began in September in Lauderdale County Chancery Court, and was set to continue Wednesday of this past week but at the last minute, the two sides reached an agreement.
Attorney Bill Ready Jr., who represented the Arundel residents, said Riley has agreed not to hold races after 10:30 p.m., with a 30-minute grace period to complete races that have already begun.
The residents have agreed to let Riley leave two of the track's big lights on until midnight so that drivers and crews can see to load their cars and equipment.
Ready said his clients dropped their demand for damages because, the reality is, Riley doesn't have that kind of money. Who does?
Suddenly, Greg: The other attorney in the race track dispute was Greg Malta, who is all of the sudden everywhere you look. He qualified to run for county attorney, but pulled out Friday.
He looked into the possibility of running against Greg Snowden for a seat in the Mississippi House of Representatives, District 83. That couldn't happen because he doesn't live in District 83. Malta is also a member of the 186th Air Refueling Wing and the unit's in-service counsel. He was peripherally involved in some discussions this week at the newspaper.
And, apropos of nothing in particular, he left Bourdeaux &Jones several months ago to go into practice with Stewart Parrish. He appears to be a man contemplating some big changes in his life.
Catching up: Late in February, Cynthia McLelland was sentenced in Lauderdale County Circuit Court for embezzling more than $160,000 from Peavey Electronics.
A tentative plea bargain drafted in December indicated that McLelland would pay back $60,000 on the day she was sentenced and $400 a month at some point thereafter. The December draft indicated that McLelland would be sentenced to 10 years in prison, with seven years suspended and three to serve.
That's almost how it worked out. Court documents indicate McLelland paid $46,247 on sentencing day. The sentence was imposed as indicated, except McLelland will serve her three years under the house arrest program.
Her first restitution payment is due March 15. At the rate of $400 a month, it will take her more than 20 years to pay back all the money.